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August 31, 2005

Addition to the post on the Cavalier Daily concerning Todd Aman's editorial

I recently was questioned on my stance on the racism issue. Mostly, the concern was over free speech; if someone can get arrested for saying something overtly offensive, then where will it stop? Here's how I replied.
My complaint is mostly about threats. The biggest thing that we have heard from this all was a need for "diversity", but that is a politicized response that would not solve anything. Racism might be seen in stereotypes, both negative ("Hispanics are lazy") or positive ("Black people are good basketball players"), true or not. But most of that obviously does not require such a strong response, and I certainly would not intend to imply so. But the message left at the lawn room was a threat, and like saying bomb on an airplane or yelling fire in a crowded movie theater, it may put people at risk. I understand your concerns with the freedom of speech (it is something I certainly have wrestled with), but I do not believe that threats are justified (or Constitutionally protected) except in the case of self-defense (like stopping a would-be mugger by saying you have a gun).
I do, in part, agree with the person who challenged me on that. We would have to police what people say, and it would be far too easy to make a mistake.

Still, an outright threat, like I said, is not protected. My mistake was not being clear there, and I have not blogged on this subject before either. Much like when I say something, the law needs to be bold and straight-forward. If upheld well, the number of incidents should drop.